Title IX investigations are not criminal cases, but they do follow a process that involves talking to witnesses and gathering evidence. The details of how investigations and hearings are conducted can vary from school to school.
If you are mentioned as part of a Title IX investigation, an important first step is to contact an attorney with a solid background in Title IX procedures. At Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC, our attorneys have decades of combined experience fighting for the rights of those involved in these school-based cases.
What Is Title IX?
Title IX, part of the Education Amendments of 1972, is a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in all schools that receive any federal funding. The law covers all school programs and activities, both on- and off-campus. Students, teachers, staff, contractors, and others are protected by Title IX.
What Happens in a Title IX Investigation?
The Title IX process can vary from school to school, but typically, both the accuser (complainant) and the accused (respondent) are interviewed, and witnesses and others with knowledge about the alleged incident are questioned. Witnesses may be asked to participate in an interview and possibly testify at a hearing. Finally, a hearing panel determines what, if any, disciplinary action is taken against the respondent.
Who Is Obligated to Participate in the Investigation Process?
If you have information regarding the incident, what you know may be critically important to the investigation. Many universities, however, cannot require a witness to cooperate with the inquiry.
You have options when you are contacted by a Title IX investigator:
- Refuse to participate
- Participate fully
- Give an anonymous statement (only available in some informal inquiries)
If you speak with a Title IX investigator, they may also ask you to provide relevant documentation such as texts, emails, and photos which will be shared with the decision-makers. Your statement will also be shared with the complainant and respondent. You may be asked for a follow-up interview or asked to testify at a live hearing.
Can a Witness Face Consequences in the Investigation?
Some witnesses worry that the information they provide in a Title IX proceeding could get them in trouble, too. For example, a witness could have been drinking or otherwise breaking campus policies or laws.
If you are a witness but concerned you could be implicated in any way, an attorney who has an extensive understanding of Title IX can offer guidance on how to best proceed.
Protect Your Rights as a Witness in a Title IX case
Although your testimony as a witness could help prevent an unjust decision, it is also important to protect your own rights by:
- Retaining an experienced Title IX attorney
- Not discussing the case with anyone else at school
- Not posting anything related to the case on social media
- Reading the school’s code of conduct and Title IX policies
- Reading any materials that the school provides you about the investigation
- Collecting relevant evidence including anything that can help defend you against accusations
Fully understand your rights as a witness. Consult with a seasoned attorney about the case and your connection to what happened. Our lawyers’ combined background in criminal law and Title IX enable us to provide high-quality personalized counsel.
Schedule your initial consultation online or by calling (737) 200-2332. We have offices in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Texas.